To cut out a few ounces from their ultralight tents, most manufacturers adopt a smaller, tighter design that eliminates some of the material weight. However, this often means that ultralight tents are simply shorter, narrower, and smaller than is truly comfortable for two people — a bummer of a trade off! For that reason, we chose to recognize the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 as the most spacious ultralight tent in this review. At only 1lb. 7.7oz., it is indeed super light, but you won't have to compromise on space with this large Mid. Its rectangular shaped interior is taller than any other tent we tested, and also encompasses more floor space, providing ample room for two to spread out to sleep and store their gear, with room enough for the dog as well. If you are looking for a very versatile shelter that won't force you to compromise on space or comfort, we highly recommend taking a look at the UltaMid 2.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Review
Cons: Requires lashing two poles together for setup, very expensive, no floor or bug protection built in
Manufacturer: Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
While we chose to recognize the HMG UltaMid 2 as the most spacious of the ultralight tent options in this review, we also want to point out that it was the third highest scoring overall. While it isn't quite as light as the two tarps in this review, it never-the-less offers more wind and weather protection, as well as privacy, begging the question: why wouldn't you want this Mid for your backpacking trip and thru-hike? It's hard to find an answer to that question, except for the incredibly high $715 price tag. But, seeing as how it's made completely of Dyneema Composite Fiber (DCF), formerly known as Cuben Fiber, perhaps one shouldn't be surprised. But with that high of a price tag, one also shouldn't expect anything less than the best, and we can honestly say that this Mid delivers.
We thought the UltaMid 2 ranked right up there as the best in terms of weather protection, and also thought that its four-season adaptability was a huge advantage over other three-season tents. One of our only complaints was that this tent is so tall that a single adjustable trekking or ski pole is not tall enough to support it, thus requiring you to lash together two poles, hang it from above, or get creative. To help with this problem, and make it more versatile for those not carrying trekking poles, we wish that HMG sold a modular collapsible pole that could be used, but alas they do not. This complaint aside, if you have the money and want one of the most spacious and weather resistant ultralight tents available, then check this one out.
When it comes to weather resistance, there is no doubt that DCF fiber is in a league of its own, offering many advantages over its main rival, SilNylon. DCF is not only lighter than SilNylon, but also functionally totally waterproof, providing the ultimate in rain and snow protection. It also doesn't absorb water, meaning it won't stretch and sag when it gets wet, is less prone to ripping, and is very easy to fix in the field. The fact that this Mid used DCF is a major reason why it ranks above the Black Diamond Beta Light when it comes to weather protection, despite many similarities in design.
Not only do we think this tent is excellent at protecting you from the water, but it is also highly wind resistant. Set up low to the ground without a gap, it was the most wind resistant design we tested as well. Overall, we thought it did equally as good a job as our Editors' Choice winning Zpacks Duplex tent when it came to protecting you from the elements.
We have already pointed out that the UltaMid 2 has a ton of interior space, enough for two people to comfortably sleep, store gear, and for a dog or two to join in the fun. It is also quite tall, with steep walls, offering plenty of room for sitting up inside and moving about, luxuries that are not present in the small dedicated-pole two-person tents. Although it offers more headroom, we thought that it had about the same amount of interior comfort as the Six Moons Designs Haven Tarp.
However, just like the Haven Tarp and the Black Diamond Beta Light, this Mid does not have a floor, or built in bug protection. Hyperlite Mountain Gear offers two different solutions to solve this problem in a modular manner — a bug insert without a floor ($145, 13.4 ounces) or with a floor ($395, 21 ounces). We tested the bug insert without floor while working on this review (all scores and data in this review reflects only the mid without insert) and while it worked well to accomplish its purpose, adds notable weight, expense, and especially bulk when in use, just like most modular inserts.
Having only a single wall made out of a non-permeable fabric, condensation build up inside can be a problem. To combat this, there is a mesh covered vent at the apex of the pyramid that can be opened or closed. In addition, added ventilation can be had by setting the Mid up with a gap above the ground so air can circulate through. As one of the more comfortable tents in this review, we awarded it 8 out of 10 points.
On Hyperlite Mountain Gear's website, this tent is listed as weighing only 1lb. 1.6oz. with the included guy lines. However, on our independent scale, we weighed it numerous times at 1lb. 7.7oz. with guy lines, a difference of six ounces. Included with your purchase is the tent itself, cordage for each of the eight staking points along the perimeter of the tent, extra cordage for guying out the sides or rigging it from a tree, and the DCF stuff sack. You will need to purchase your own stakes separately, have two adjustable trekking poles with a means to attach them together for added height, and some sort of ground cover for sleeping on inside this floorless tent.
The weight of 1lb. 7.7oz. puts it squarely in the middle of this comparative test of tent weight without stakes, just below the Zpacks Duplex, which is also made of DCF but includes a floor and bug netting built in. It is slightly lighter than the MSR Flylite 2 which is made of treated ripstop nylon. While this tent is still ultralight for two people, it is certainly not in the league of a tarp like the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp, nor does it pack down as small.
This Mid has a fixed design, and essentially can only be set up in one shape. However, it does have the adaptability of using two lashed together trekking poles for structure, or a stick or paddle, or it can also be hung from a tree branch if you can find a suitable one. Despite the fixed design, we thought it ranked up there as one of the most adaptable tents because of its four-season capabilities, and the fact that it is stable in almost any conceivable location.
The only ultralight shelter that we found to be more adaptable was the HMG Square Flat Tarp, which can be set up in innumerable ways. But, like the Black Diamond Beta Light, this mid is designed for four-season use, and can easily shed a load of snow while staying upright. Having no floor gives one the option of digging out the ground beneath it if set up in snow or on a glacier, making it a good base camp tent. Worth noting is that if used in this manner, DCF fabric has a much lower tolerance for heat than SilNylon, increasing greatly the risk of cooking inside of it. The 3' long stake out cords included with purchase, combined with line locks on eight separate points along the perimeter, make this tent easy to adjust up or down for either more air flow or more wind protection as needed, and are versatile enough to wrap around rocks or bury in the snow if the ground will not take stakes. All of these features work to make this one of the most adaptable tents we tested.
Ease of Set-up
In theory, this is a really easy shelter to set up, BUT for one tiny headache — it is too tall for one adjustable trekking pole. HMG recommends that you buy "ultramid pole straps" from them for $12, which allows you to easily lash two poles together to provide the needed height (these look exactly like utility ski straps commonly used by backcountry skiers, so you could also use some of those). Of course, this means that if you are base-camping, then two poles are tied up in the tent instead of just one, and it takes more time to do this and adjust them every day than if only one was needed. In our field testing, we also managed to find tall flat rocks that we could stack on the ground and balance the pole on top of, which seemed to work just fine when tensioned in place, as long as you can find some suitable rocks.
Much like the Beta Light, setting this tent up is as easy as staking out all four corners, then crawling inside and propping up the center with your already lashed together trekking poles. Adding stakes to the wall midpoints and door, as well as adjusting the tightness, which is made easy by the line-locks in place at the staking points, is the last step. This process is really easy for one person, even in a storm, but takes a little longer due to having to lash the poles together, and so takes about the same amount of time as the Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo. Just remember to bring your own stakes, pole straps, and adjustable poles.
This Mid is a great option for two people for almost any outdoor adventure where space is appreciated and light weight is desired. While it can be setup low to the ground, this will only help with light bug issues, and for heavy bugs we recommend the insert. As one of the most weather proof tents in this review, it is appropriate for four season use, and could make a great base camp or cook tent. Unfortunately, HMG does not sell a collapsible pole for this tent, so no matter what your adventure, just be sure you have some way to prop it up inside, preferably two adjustable poles.
This tent costs a whopping $715, which is $115 more expensive than its next closest competitor. For those familiar with DCF, this price tag should not be a surprise. That said, you must pay for the very best materials, and the craftsmanship and design of this tent match the cost. We think this tent does indeed provide good value, but point out that the Beta Light has virtually all the same advantages, for only $200.
We chose to recognize the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 as the most spacious ultralight tent we have used. This is a worthy point to consider when comparing it many of the very tiny, cramped, and uncomfortable ultralight tents available today. Simply put, you don't have to trade comfort in order to have light weight.
— Andy Wellman